On October 20, Brian Laundrie’s human remains were found in Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park and were identified using his dental records.
Laundrie was the sole person of interest in the highly publicized homicide of Gabby Petito.
Since Laundrie’s remains were discovered, there were a lot of discussions and theories in social media regarding its skeletal condition.
Some people argued that the length of time between Laundrie’s reported disappearance and the discovery of his remains in Florida means there’s not enough time for such a quick decomposition to set in.
This argument convinced some people to believe that Laundrie’s remains were just ‘planted’ at the scene and that the 23-year-old is alive and living undercover as a cop.
Now, a forensic pathologist has addressed the baseless theories surrounding Laundrie’s skeletonized body.
Dr Wolf, a forensic pathologist who runs a forensic-focused TikTok account The Dead Letter, has explained how human remains can be skeletonized at a much faster rate under certain conditions.
Dr Wolf said that he felt the need to comment on Laundrie’s case in order to clarify a few key facts about skeletonized remains.
The forensic pathologist explained how there are many factors that go into that process of decomposition.
“You can’t just Google how long does it takes for a body to decompose and get a correct answer,” Dr Wolf said. “Because there are so many variables.”
He explained that this list of variables would include temperature.
“If the temperature was warm, decomposition will progress more rapidly,” he explained.
Using his reliable Medicolegal Investigation of Death textbook (‘the bible of forensic pathology’) Dr Wolf turned to Chapter III: Time of Death and Anatomical Changes After Death, and referred specifically to Part I: Anatomical Considerations.
“So although skeletonization can take months, let’s go to this paragraph, ‘under most favorable conditions, particularly with necrophagous insect activity’ – this means insects that eat dead flesh – skeletonization may occur even earlier,” he said.
Dr Wolf then went on to mention the homicide case of a 13-year-old girl from Mississippi, ‘whose body became almost completely skeletonized within ten days during late summer’.
As pointed out by the MD, Laundrie’s remains were also found in a ‘fairly warm climate’ with ‘lots of bugs, water, lots of animals’ which means the condition of his body wouldn’t have been surprising to forensic experts.
“So it’s possible and maybe even expected that the body would be skeletonized within a few days,” he explained. “Especially when you consider animals like birds and gators and turtles and things like that which will nibble away at flesh.”
Dr Wolf also went on to say that body identification by dental records is ‘very reliable’ especially if the person in question had undergone ‘a lot of dental work’.